Originally published on CleanTechnica Solar shingles are now gaining increasing traction in the renewable energy landscape. They are architecturally distinctive, more so than traditional rooftop photovoltaic panels. Solar shingles provide an integrated building product providing both roofing security and solar electricity in one package. As PV Magazine’s Charles W. Thurston has stated, “The nascent field of […]
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Researchers at the University of Michigan have created a lattice-like solar cell that can stretch like an accordion, allowing it to tilt along the sun’s trajectory and capture more energy. The details of the oddly shaped solar film, inspired by the Japanese art of paper cutting called kirigami, are in a paper recently published in […]
We are happy to report the Dow line of solar shingles is now available in two more states. Dow Solar announced today that the availability of DOW POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles, an award-winning residential solar roofing system, is expanding to Delaware and Hawaii. Delaware and Hawaii are among the smaller states in the nation, both in […]
Astonishing new advances in clean energy production are happening worldwide with the experimentation and understanding of piezoelectric technology.
The headquarters of a construction firm in Michigan has the distinction of being the first building to achieve LEED “double platinum” certification. What is more, according to the company, the cost of construction was no greater than conventional building practices. The Christman Construction offices in Lansing MI occupy roughly half of the 64,000 square foot […]
Grand Rapids, Michigan is one of the greenest cities in the country, at least if you go by the number of LEED certified buildings it has. And now it adds to its distinction with the first LEED Gold certified art museum in the country. Grand Rapids is tied with Pittsburgh and Washington at #5 on […]
This local blog first came to my attention via an article in the local paper about a University of Michigan medical student and his daughter who are operating a blog together that is encouraging people to eat vegetarian meals one day a week (on Wednesdays). The Vegetarian Wednesday blog began just this past summer. Originally founded by Josh Mugele and his daughter Eleanor, there are now a few other writers (relatives and med school classmates) who contribute to the blog as well.
"Vegetarian Wednesday started when my daughter wanted to become a vegetarian but couldn’t do it all at once (she loves her chicken nuggets). I told her I’d help her by doing it with her, and we’d start by becoming vegetarians one day a week. Thus was born Vegetarian Wednesday. She wants to become a vegetarian because she loves animals. I want to do it because it’s good for me and good for the planet. Did you know that the meat industry is one of the leading contributors to global warming in the world? Did you know that eating less meat lowers your weight and total cholesterol? Think of what we could do if we all stopped eating meat for just one day a week.
"The purpose of this blog is to encourage meat-eaters like me to make a difference in their health and in the health of the planet by trying to eat no meat one day each week. On this blog we can share recipes, stories about Vegetarian Wednesdays, and most of all spread the word."
<img src="/files/111/wind-sun.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="225" align="right" /><br />
Last week I wrote an article titled "<a href="/2007/07/26/real_renewable_energy_vs_renewable_energy_credits">Real Renewable Energy vs. Renewable Energy Credits</a>" where I looked at the issue of <a href="/guide/renewable_energy_credits_rec">renewable energy credits (RECs)</a> versus direct purchase of renewable energy. (For some followup to that story, a <a href="http://www.wdetfm.org/rss/archives/listen.php?show=1&date=1186113600">podcast</a> of the WDET radio program 'Detroit Today' where the issue of the local REC program was discussed is now online. In addition to discussing the DTE Greencurrents program, the Austin (TX) green energy program was also explored and compared with the REC program.)<br />
While buying renewable energy credits helps to support the development of alternative energy solutions, many times these programs are not specifically local. The credits you are buying may be for energy produced in a different region entirely. If part of your goal in purchasing RECs is to support and encourage the development of local renewable energy, then a generic REC may not be what you want.<br />
The state of Michigan has recently started a new <a href="http://www.michigan.gov/cis/0,1607,7-154-25676_25774-170154–,00.html">program called MI-REX</a> (Michigan Renewable Energy Exchange), which is intended to bring together people interested in purchasing renewable energy credits with the owners of small renewable energy systems who have credits to offer. At this point the program is just in a pilot phase, and no RECs have been sold yet. The state website has an application form to gather more information about the systems people would like to register and offer credits.
<img src="/files/111/greenpower.jpg" alt="" width="211" height="300" align="right" />A couple of my friends have recently asked about the new renewable energy credit program that our local electricity utility, <a href="http://www.dteenergy.com/">DTE Energy</a>, is now offering. One friend asked me about it directly, and another raised the question on the state mailing list for the <a href="http://www.o2-usa.org/mi/">o2 Network</a>. There was an interesting discussion about the topic on the 02 list, and I've included some of the information that other people shared on that list in this article.
In southeast Michigan, the local electricity company is DTE Energy. Although it has (or had) a number of business units exploring all manner of alternative energy production, DTE has been relatively resistive to including any renewable energy in its portfolio. Despite consumer demand for green energy, DTE has no plans to construct anything, and has been very resistive to connecting alternative producers to its grid. (This is the same company that <a href="http://cornellbox.livejournal.com/14869.html">fought against</a> <a href="http://www.michigansthumb.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17333256&BRD=2292&PAG=461&dept_id=571474&rfi=6">connecting a wind turbine</a> installed at a local middle school from connecting to the grid.)
Looking at the <a href="/guide/renewable_energy_credits_rec">renewable energy credit (REC)</a> program that DTE is offering, there isn't much to it. DTE is offering now has two options for residential customers. One is a premium of 2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) on all electricity used. The other is to buy RECs in blocks of 100 kWh for $2.50 each (2.5 cents per kWh). These are supposed to come from in-state sources, to the greatest extent possible, but DTE has argued that there aren't many in-state sources available to them.
Michigan's Pubic Service Commission "<a href="http://efile.mpsc.cis.state.mi.us/efile/docs/14569/0206.pdf">Opinion and Order</a>" (PDF) regarding DTE's program recognizes the comments and criticism about the program and how much (or how little) it will do to encourage the development of renewable energy production in the state of Michigan.</p>
Michigan Wind Power Map: Image Source: State of MichiganA proposed 21st Century Renewable Energy Plan was introduced last week for the state of Michigan. This is something that the state badly needs. Other states have been pushing forward programs to develop their energy efficiency and renewability, such as the Million Solar Roofs in California, or the western states' "Transitioning the West to Clean Energy and Energy Security." As I mentioned earlier, Michigan, with it's present building code, has one of the worst energy standards in the country. One aspect of this new legislative proposal is to "promote energy conservation through updated construction codes and consumer tax credits for energy-efficient appliances."
The key elements of the plan:
Earlier this week, an article in the local paper noted that a local school had been recognized as one of 18 "Green School certified" schools in the state of Michigan. I wasn't familiar with the program (in part because this is the first year of the program), but I quickly found that rather than a building program, it is instead an educational program for the students.
The Green School program requires a degree of involvement from the school's students in a variety of green projects in order to obtain the certification. A school is eligible for this certification if it completes at least 10 criteria from a list of programs including such obvious green steps as recycling paper, reusing magazines from the library, and holding an Earth Day event. But the list also includes more ambitious projects such as establishing a natural Michigan garden project with native plants, holding solar power presentations or experiments, such as a solar cookout, doing energy audits of their classrooms, and even making improvements to their classrooms as a result of the energy audits.
Participating in a printer cartridge recycling program or a cellular telephone recycling program (both of which can also help the school to earn money) are also suggestions on the list.
The third Wednesday of the month is the regular meeting time for Green Drinks in southeast Michigan at Leopold Bros. in Ann Arbor. This was actually the second Green Drinks of the month, because a special Green Drinks Pub Crawl was organized in conjunction with the Remodel Green Conference last Friday.
The Michigan Green Drinks combines with the o2 Network because the membership of the two groups has so much overlap. This month's Green Drinks had about 15 people atttending over the course of the evening. There is not a set program for the evening. Rather, it is just an opportunity to meet like-minded people.
Discussions (that I was part of or was able to overhear) included industrial ergonomics, supply chains and materials for the auto industry (there have been a number of current and former designers from the auto industry who have attended these events), and a like-minded local group called Junto that is modeled on an intellectual discussion group founded by Benjamin Franklin.